Schizophrenia: Breaking the mental health stigma | BBC Ideas


People have a general idea
of insanity or craziness or madness that they associate with the idea of
schizophrenia. It’s kind of an idea of wildness, not so much what
psychosis might actually be but more of an idea of
violence or just being crazy. My name is Esme Weijun Wang,
I attended Yale University and Stanford University
and I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder
bipolar type since 2013. Before I was diagnosed with
schizoaffective disorder I had already been in
the mental health care system for quite a number of years.
I’d been diagnosed with depression and anxiety since I was about 15 or
16, and then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder
in my late teens. When I was finally diagnosed
with schizoaffective disorder I felt a great sense of relief. It’s quite common for people to
go through a number of diagnoses before they reach
their final diagnosis. And I think that part of the
reason this happens is that schizoaffective disorder
in particular, but also the schizophrenias in general,
is a rather stigmatised diagnosis. And so often doctors
will resist that diagnosis for as long as possible.
So they start with the quote unquote, “easier diagnoses”.
They might start with depression and then move on to bipolar disorder
as they did in my case. People tend to think of schizophrenia
in a way that they don’t think about other mental health diagnoses. When people think about depression,
they often think about the person that has depression
as still themselves. When they think about schizophrenia
they tend to think about this person who is who they were, but then kind
of scooped out and removed and replaced by this awful disease
and the person who used to be there and was a good and
normal person is gone. They’re possessed as though by
a demon, as though in the movie The Exorcist. Except instead of a demon,
they’re replaced by schizophrenia. Because people think that there
is a kind of possession involved in schizophrenia
or the schizophrenias, they also believe that the person
has no autonomy over themselves and no right to make decisions
over their own care. Therefore, forcible treatment
or forced hospitalisation becomes necessary. I think that in order for
schizophrenia and the schizophrenias to become less taboo in culture
there need to be more stories. I think that people need to come
out about their diagnoses, there need to be more narratives
about what the diagnosis means. But there also needs to be better
treatment and if there is better treatment, if there are more stories,
if there are more narratives, If people can know that there
are people all around them who have this diagnosis,
I think stigma will decrease. I use my accomplishments,
I use the way I dress, I use my relationships
all as ways to prove, “Look I’m still a worthy member
of society even though I have this severe form of mental illness.” This also means that I’m part of the
problem when it comes to looking at people who are perhaps less
quote unquote, “high-functioning”. The person on the bus who’s
screaming, the houseless person who has lost their job because there
is something very wrong with them in terms of their mental health. And I know that, that is me dealing with the stigma as well,
the self-stigma. That is their diagnosis,
as well as mine. I would like people to understand
that it’s possible for you to know somebody who has schizophrenia
or some form of the schizophrenias without you knowing. People with that diagnosis, like me,
are everywhere and we are living lives that are full and wonderful and we also like blueberry pie. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell the receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

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